Lasith Malinga, the Sri Lanka fast bowler is available for selection for their World Cup, Group A game against Kenya on Tuesday, according to the team's coach Trevor Bayliss. Malinga, who created a world record at the 2007 World Cup by capturing four wickets off four balls in Sri Lanka's game against South Africa, missed his team's first two matches in this edition due to a sore back.
But at the media conference on Monday, Bayliss said: "Malinga is available for selection. His physio told us that the first two weeks were the most important and those are up tomorrow. Malinga is fit and it is up to the selectors to pick him or not for tomorrow's match."
Malinga's absence in the bowling line-up was clearly felt when Pakistan ran up 277 for 7 and went on to beat Sri Lanka by 11 runs on Saturday.
Sri Lanka team manager Anura Tennekoon said Malinga would play against Kenya to give him much-needed match practice ahead of a crucial game against Australia on Saturday. If Malinga does play, either Thisara Perera or Nuwan Kulasekara will have to make room.
Coach Bayliss said Sri Lanka did not play to their potential against Pakistan and they would come out in full force to prove a point. "I thought the other night against Pakistan we played some very good cricket for lots of the match. There were a couple of periods where we didn't play as well as we would have liked. Our guys know we can play a lot better than that. I am sure they will be out to show how good they can play in the match against Kenya tomorrow."
The match between Sri Lanka and Pakistan was a close affair, and along with the thrilling tie between India and England on Sunday, gave the World Cup a much-needed lift after a dour start. "Both teams I think probably thought that they should have won," Bayliss said of Saturday's game. "Both teams at different stages probably thought they might lose. It was a good game; one of those good games to be involved in. It was very good for the tournament as a whole."
Sri Lanka are overwhelming favourites for the match against Kenya, who have looked out of their depth in the World Cup so far. But Bayliss ensured his team were not taking anyone for granted. "I am sure they [Kenya] will like to put in a better performance than they have done in the last couple of games. Certainly our guys will not be taking Kenya lightly. That's for sure."
One of the key areas Sri Lanka will concentrate on is building partnerships, the absence of which resulted in their defeat to Pakistan. Their batting line-up is unlikely to change but they may rest Muttiah Muralitharan and play the other two spinners: Rangana Herath and Ajantha Mendis.
Bayliss also praised the Premadasa pitch and said that it was the best pitch he's seen in the four years he has been coach.